Crazy times… And as usual my outlook is the pendulum I normally swing back and forth on: 95% joy and optimism, 5% dread and anxiety. With the coronavirus, my view has been and I suppose still is that we’re likely to get it and it’s unlikely it’ll kill us. We take the precautions we can, although I have to say I’m pretty revolted by the fact that for some people it seems to be a new thing that you wash your hands regularly and properly with soap. But I digress. I’ve felt no overwhelming panic or raced out to get enough bog roll to build a fortress of the stuff, nor have I packed the cupboards full of flu medication. Instead I’ve happily bobbed along on my Pink Cloud and shopped the way we normally do. I’ve seen so much love and goodwill in the world and a wonderful community spirit where we club together to support and help those among us who are vulnerable. Sure, I’ve rolled my eyes at people clearing supermarket shelves of toilet roll and tinned food, but I also know we won’t run out and whilst annoying, it hasn’t riled me. But perhaps that’s because I haven’t seen the consequences of this behaviour up close and personal.
In the past couple of days, I had clearly got to the end of my 95% quota of joy. I popped to our local M&S a couple of days ago to replenish berries and fruit for smoothies and I went by the shelves where they stock loo roll – there was product and plenty of it, so I went on my merry way. We have enough of the normal supply we get (a pack of 9 rolls roughly once per week – yes, we use quite a lot and I admit I’m a very excessive bottom wiper) so I didn’t get any, just felt reassured and paid for my smoothie supplies and left. Later, when Hubby came home, my Pink Cloud started to evaporate – he was stressed and Hubby very rarely get rattled by anything. Not even ME, and that’s saying something. He seemed tired, sad and overwhelmed. He works for a global relocations company and with the current situation they’re fast approaching bedlam with 5,000+ employees unable to do anything, cashflow strangled and salaries to pay. Seeing him stressed knocked me off my cloud – if Hubby is stressed, panic is in order.
Once I’d fallen off my unicorn and my multicoloured polar bear Growzer had scuttled off, I realised my rose tinted glasses were still in the bear’s saddle bags and without them I suddenly noticed several Facebook updates from friends. Everything from expressing a wish to kill people who stockpile food and supplies to calling out for help because desperately needed medications aren’t available. Hearing about a young mum being unable to find medication for her baby made my heart sink. That’s not “a bit irritating”. That’s no longer “bloody dimwits”. That’s a potentially….. I don’t even want to spell out what that could result in. And yesterday’s trip to Sainsbury’s to buy chicken for dinner and schampoo that I’d forgotten to add to this week’s delivery was a VERY different experience than my trip to M&S the day before. Like before, I walked by the loo roll shelves just to check. Empty. Or… Wiped clean, hahr hahr. That was worrying. Same with shelves for pasta, tinned foods, UHT milk etc. Most meats gone too.
OK, so I wasn’t going to get any of that, but I could clearly see how this panic is created. Walking past yet another set of bare shelves as I looked for olive oil (another item I’d missed out on our weekly shop and we are almost out of), there was ONE bottle of cooking oil left. Sunflower oil. Normally I’d leave it and get it from elsewhere, but the panic got hold of me. What if I CAN’T? We won’t go under through a lack of olive oil, but it’d be a pain not to have it as we use it for cooking pretty much every day. So it changed my behaviour. Sorry – I changed my behaviour, I own my behaviour after all. I took the bottle because it was there and in case I can’t get hold of olive oil elsewhere. I took it, in other words, just in case. If I pop into a shop today and indeed find olive oil, I have deprived another person of that bottle of sunflower oil, and that person might really need it. And I’ll just have a spare bottle of cooking oil I could be without. Panic breeds panic and it spreads like wildfire.
The same thing happened when I was on my way out with my schampoo, might-need-it sunflower oil and chicken, I saw the shelves for medicines. Whoa! All gone. And the wave of worry came over me. We’re not ill… ….YET. But we may really need something to reduce a fever and ease a sore throat. Scary. All that was left was aspirin and throat lozenges so I got one of each. Just in case. And that makes me a person who bought medication we don’t currently need, potentially meaning that a really ill person who needs it more TODAY can’t find any.
It’s not a good feeling.
No. I’m a good person. Yes, I do what I can to ensure my family have what they need and I try not to go beyond so everyone else can do the same. But I’m sure the above is enough to make me a Selfish Dimwit. Shit behaviour usually comes from fear and that’s crappy but resenting each other won’t fix anything. So I try to accept what I can’t control and change what I can. We continue to shop for food the way we normally do and hope that we won’t be the suckers who will suddenly be without when supplies disappear. We are told there is enough for everyone. So no stockpiling. But I can absolutely understand the fear because during those few moments I felt it, and my friend’s words are as true as they always were: never assume bad intent.
This crisis has created fear which in turn has brought out the worst in some (and me too), but it’s brought out the best in so many, many more and the world continues to fill me with awe. We’ll get through this together.
How’s everyone doing? As of now, schools are mostly open here in London but some (including my son’s) partially closed due to staff shortages that are down to self isolation. People are encouraged to work from home but most things seem to be running. The advice regarding restaurants and pubs is to “avoid” so we’re not in complete lockdown yet. The streets are emptier and London’s quieter, but life hasn’t completely changed yet and we do almost everything we normally do but with more caution and avoiding big gatherings and public transport. What are things like where you are? Are you worried and/or panicked? Are you uplifted or disheartened by what you see around you? Is the world ugly or beautiful?
Today I’m not going to drink.